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Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's Time to Backup Your Digital Photos!

With the prevalence of Digital Photos, we end up with many more photographs than we had back in the film processing days. That adds up to a ton extra snapshots – to make sure you get that ‘perfect’ picture – comes a larger problem, a lot more photos taking up a lot more hard drive space.

Of course, the more photos you add to your computer, the more risk there is that you lose everything if you hard drive or your computer crashes. Not an ideal situation, to say that least.

It is the right time of year to think about how you care for your online photos. Having just entered into 2008, you need to think about how you are protecting yourself from that next hard drive crash.

The way I look at it, you have a couple of options.
1. Subscribe to an online service that allows you to upload your photos to them. Among many service out there: Google’s Picasa, Yahoo’s Flickr, and Shutterfly – all popular services. While Google (one of the few times) trails in this area, for $24.95/year allows unlimited uploads, storage, and a 10MB file limit. With a 10.1MP camera, the JPEG images produce end up in the 4-5MB range so that should be plenty. Picasa and Shutterfly may also reduce the size of your original image degrading the quality – although Shutterfly does allow unlimited picture storage today.
2. Your other option is to put in a process so that you protect yourself against the loss of such pictures.

I could write for the next 10 pages about the pros and cons of the two choices, but will attempt to sum it up in a couple of sentences.

For the online option the pros are someone else is worrying about storing your pictures, and you can get to them from anywhere you are at, often for a small feed. The cons are that you’re at the mercy of the services if they change their terms, go out of business or have a major disaster – remember online photo storage has only been around for a short period of time – and you must have a high-speed upload connection – cable modems and DSL may not be quick enough for high quality pictures. Another big con is that if you shoot in RAW mode, even Flickr converts it to a JPG, so if retaining the original quality of the photo is important, this may not be an appropriate option.

For the do-it-yourself option, you have to commit to whatever processes you put in place to make sure you are consistent. The buck stops with you, but you can make it more fool and economy proof.

Thus far – I have chosen the do-it-yourself methodology although I have recently considered an upgrade to Flickr Pro at the $24.95 rate. For me, it is both a daily backup (automatic) and an annual archive process. The rest of this post will cover the process I have put in place.

First though, the situation:
For the year 2007 that just ended, I took over 11GB worth of photos from both our Canon PowerShot G7 and the Powershot SD800IS. As I repeat the process, the size of the pictures I took in 2007 was nearly triple the size of the photos in 2006, and 2006 was triple the size of 2005. See a progression -- does this mean 40GB for 2008?

The process I have put in place consists of the following...

First, I have an extra hard drive in my computer that is just for backup purposes. Every night at 10:00PM I have a backup job using a basic ROBOCOPY backup job to copy all my pictures and other important things to the backup drive. That insures if my primary hard drive goes bad, then I still have all the valuable data and pictures backed up!

Secondly, at the beginning of every year – and today is that day – I create and Archive folder on my hard drive and move all of the photos from the previous year into that folder. Once I create that location, I spend a couple of hours removing pictures I do not want to keep and then prepare to move them to media. From there, I create the appropriate number of DVDs via my DVD burner with Roxio Creator DE – this year it was 3 DVDs. Then I take those DVDs, put them in my fire safe and consider that to be relatively safe. In the next couple of years I plan to instead move the DVDs to a safety deposit box at a secure location like a bank.

Just set an annual reminder in Outlook to make sure you do not forget. And with that, in the case of most disasters – all of our photos are protected in multiple ways.

Have you backed up your pictures recently? If not, now is a great time to start!


frustrated said...

Putting your photos in Shutterfly is not a backup solution because there's no way to restore the files to your disk. Shutterfly does not allow download of your original images. Furthermore, they reserve the right to delete them if you haven't purchased anything from them in 6 months.